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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Managing Online Reviews of Your Small Business

Managing Online Reviews of Your Small Business

With reviews playing a larger role as consumers research companies, products and services online, it’s increasingly important for small business owners to pay attention to what’s being said about them and to respond to reviews (whether they’re favorable or critical).

Online reviews are important tools for many consumers, but they can also provide a number of benefits to the companies being reviewed, such as:

  • Helping the company demonstrate its quality and commitment to customer service
  • Demonstrating that the customer is serving customers successfully and is willing to engage with rare less-than-satisfied customers. Other factors being equal, people tend to trust companies with more reviews.
  • Help improve a company’s search engine rankings. Because search engines consider reviews as one of the trust-related factors in evaluating a site, having favorable comments can slide a company higher in rankings than competitors with fewer reviews.

Given these benefits, it’s important to monitor online review sites and to create the habit of responding to reviews as they’re posted.

Although it’s one more task business owners have to add to their busy schedules and to-do lists, allowing a negative review to sit online without a response can validate the reviewer’s comments and add to the poor impression the review may be creating.

Customers Depend on Reviews

Estimates and statistics vary, but there’s broad agreement among marketing pros that the majority of consumers check online reviews before they make a purchase or check out a local establishment.

And for a local business, a favorable review can be especially important as consumers conduct mobile searches for restaurants, coffee shops or similar venues within a specific neighborhood or city.

Reviews are important for most businesses, but the most common online reviews compare restaurants, coffee shops, hair or beauty salons, and other service providers.

Encourage Feedback

Major review sites such as Yelp or Google Local generally preclude asking for reviews under their terms of service, but business owners can request feedback as customers complete transactions or place orders. Small signs in a local business reading “Find us on Yelp” or links to your profile page in customer emails can plant a subtle suggestion for customers to comment.

As you solicit reviews, it’s critical to avoid the temptation to enlist staff members, family or friends to leave favorable reviews of your company or your offerings. Consumers are quick to recognize a review that sounds suspiciously fake, and a steady stream of glowing reviews can dilute the value of the genuinely favorable comments left by real customers.

Respond Quickly

Whether a review is positive or negative, it’s important to respond rapidly to magnify the value of the good reviews and help dampen the effects of the bad ones. While the person who posted the review will appreciate the response, it’s even more valuable as an example to other site visitors of your commitment to listening to customers and reacting quickly to potential problems.

In either instance, start by thanking the reviewer for his or her comments. This shows that you value customer input and that you’re paying attention.

If a review is negative, apologize for the customer’s less-than-ideal experience and offer to help resolve their issue. Invite them to contact you by phone or email so you can address their concerns directly.

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